By Rich Heidorn Jr.
ISO-NE has barred Invenergy’s planned Clear River Energy Center Unit 2 from offering into February’s capacity auction because of permitting delays resulting from local opposition to the natural gas-fired plant in Burrillville, R.I.
Invenergy publicized ISO-NE’s decision for Forward Capacity Auction 12 for 2021/22 in a filing Wednesday to the Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board.
The board was scheduled to hold its final evidentiary hearings on the $1 billion project this week but postponed them until December after calling for additional public comment hearings on the plant’s water plan. The plant will have two 485-MW natural gas units with fuel oil backup.
In September, the company announced it had reached agreements with the Narragansett Indian Tribe and water trucking company Benn Water & Heavy Transport to serve as supplemental water suppliers for the plant if it needs more than the primary supplier, the Town of Johnston, R.I., can provide. State regulators had required the company to identify the backup suppliers following a lawsuit by the Town of Burrillville and the Conservation Law Foundation challenging the Johnston supply contract.
The company said the plant will need about 15,000 gallons of water daily, which it says is “90% less than similar plants in the region.”
Invenergy said ISO-NE cited the permitting problems and delays in ordering equipment, although the company said the current schedule would still have allowed it to begin operations by 2021.
“Although Invenergy considered appealing this decision to [FERC], Invenergy could not dispute that there have been permitting delays, and as such, the likelihood that the FERC would overturn ISO-NE’s FCA qualification decision was determined to be remote,” the company said.
Jerry Elmer, senior attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation, told the Providence Journal that “this shows that even the ISO agrees that [the plant] is not needed.”
But in its filing with the siting board, Invenergy included an updated report from PA Consulting Group asserting that the need for the plant is unchanged. The company also said the RTO has told it that Unit 2 is eligible to participate in FCA 13 in 2019.
The report, which assumed a one-year delay in Unit 2’s online date to June 1, 2022, said the delay had no impact on the four findings by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission indicating need: Unit 1’s clearing of FCA 10; a significant amount of capacity at-risk for retirement; the state’s location in an import-constrained zone; and the need for capacity above the RTO’s net installed capacity requirement.
Unit 1 is scheduled for commercial operation no earlier than June 2020.